Review: PDF Editor Pro 3 a pricey step up from Preview for PDF editing

At a Glance
  • Wondershare Software Co. PDF Editor Pro 3

    Macworld Rating

    PDF Editor Pro isn't a bad PDF editor, but it’s not nearly as easy to use as Preview and it’s OCR capabilities aren’t as good as those found in other applications.

PDF Editor Pro is a PDF editing and annotation tool from Wondershare that aspires to be a replacement for Apple’s built-in Preview app. While the app offers some features that aren’t available in Preview, it also lacks many of the basic features that make Preview so appealing as a PDF editing and annotating tool.

Open a PDF in PDF Editor Pro and it looks and feels pretty much the same way Preview does. There are several buttons in the toolbar that give you quick access to the application’s editing and annotation tools, which include tools for rearranging pages within your document, editing text within the PDF file, adding comments, drawing lines or freehand drawing and highlighting text.

PDF Editor Pro can take scanned PDF documents and turn them into editable PDF files you can annotate, edit, or update as you see fit.

Inline text editing in PDF Editor Pro works mostly as expected. Select the Touchup tool in the PDF Editor Pro toolbar, then double-click the text you want to edit to make changes. As is the case with any PDF editor, the quality of the edits you make using these tools may not be as good as your average word processor as the font used in the original PDF document may no be available on your Mac and you are only able to edit text one line at a time.

PDF Editor Pro has a new form recognition feature that automatically detects and highlights fields in a PDF file that are available for you to enter data into. When the application finds form fields a small blue bar appears across the top of the document stating that the document contains interactive form fields and all the fields are highlighted in blue. While it's possible to edit form fields in most other PDF editing applications, PDF Editor Pro is the only application I've used that makes it obvious a document contains these fields as soon as you open it.

If you’ve ever used Preview to edit a PDF file you may be aware that inserting pages from one PDF file into another PDF file is pretty simple. All you need to do is open two PDF files with the sidebar open so you can see the pages and then drag a page from the sidebar on one PDF to the sidebar on the other PDF. Attempting to do the same with PDF Editor simply doesn’t work. Instead, dragging the page from one document to the next rearranges the pages in the document you’ve attempted to drag the page to. It is possible to insert pages into your document from another file, but this is only using a menu item, which isn’t as straightforward or easy as Preview’s drag-and-drop.

In this OCR scan, PDF Editor Pro failed to recognize three words in the original image (left) from a digtial textbook: "self-signed," "Import," and "Configure." PDF Editor Pro displayed those three words as images (right).

Like page insertion, highlighting text in your documents works, but the devil is in the details. The default color for highlighting is yellow and, unlike Preview, there is no way to change that color from the highlighting menu. Instead, you have to open a separate Inspector window, locate the Annotation Properties and change the fill color. This is not impossible, but it lacks the basic simplicity found in apps such as Preview or even the feature-rich PDFPen Pro.

One feature that PDF Editor Pro offers that goes well beyond the capabilities of Preview is Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR lets you take text appearing in an image and turn it into text that is selectable, highlightable, and editable. PDF Editor Pro’s OCR engine is good, but not nearly as good as the OCR tools available in similar applications such as PDFPen Pro. Even in very clean documents that came from originals that were crystal clear, I ended up with odd text artifacts and in some cases, text in the middle of a sentence—with recognized text on either side of it—remained as an image rather than recognized text. Testing the same document using PDFPen Pro resulted in perfectly recognized text and a document without any vestigial images.

Bottom line

PDF Editor Pro is appealing as a PDF editor in that if offers OCR and text editing options not available in Apple’s native Preview app. However, it’s not nearly as easy to use as Preview and its OCR capabilities aren’t as good as those found in other applications. It’s not a bad PDF editing application, but you may be better off looking elsewhere for your PDF editing needs.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    PDF Editor Pro isn't a bad PDF editor, but it’s not nearly as easy to use as Preview and it’s OCR capabilities aren’t as good as those found in other applications.

    Pros

    • Automatically recognizes and highlights form fields
    • Offers OCR and PDF editing capabilities

    Cons

    • No multicolor highlighting from the tool bar
    • Inserting new pages into PDFs is more difficult than necessary
    • OCR’d documents contain odd artifacts and not all image text is recognized
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